Former Mill building readied for move to business park

November 10, 2018

STERLING – An old industrial building along the riverfront is just a shell of its former self, but it soon will find a new home and purpose.

Workers have been systematically dismantling the former Northwestern Steel & Wire building so it can be moved to the Meadowlands Business Park.

After gaining control of the site, the city rented out the space to Best Cob for corn storage, but now the building is in the way of the city’s riverfront development plans. Instead of demolishing it, the Greater Sterling Development Corp. decided to buy it and convert it into more business incubator space.

Sterling’s business incubator program is one of the most successful in the state, based on longevity and number of graduates. The Small Business Technology Center and the Kitchen Incubator, which focuses on food businesses, help entrepreneurs affordably launch new enterprises. They offer work space, conference rooms, loading docks, office equipment and business services such as consulting and help with grants and loans.

The additional building will offer needed space and fill a gap in GSDC’s offerings.

“We have 24 units, and they are full right now,” GSDC Executive Director Heather Sotelo said. “There is a need for a mid-size incubator that has 5,000 to 10,000 square-foot spaces and can be modulated into something larger.”

Sotelo expects there will be about 4 more weeks of work downtown before the building can be moved piecemeal. Its red-iron steel structural beams and metal columns will be put on trailers and taken to a lot south of 1005 Commerce Drive, the former site of Anchor Coupling, near Menk USA.

It should take 2 more months to redo the outside of the building, and then work on the interior can begin in the spring.

Sotelo didn’t have the exact numbers available on the cost of the move and remodeling, but said it will cost less than putting up a new building. Any materials that can’t be used at the business park will be recycled for scrap.

The city is eager to get rid of the building and open up that area of the riverfront for new recreational projects. Dirt will be added to build up the area and create an environmental barrier.

“The first step for us when the building is gone is to break up the concrete foundation so it can drain before we bring in the fill and cap,” City Manager Scott Shumard said.

The city’s engineers are figuring out how much fill will be needed. Dirt is available from the last building project done at Wahl Clipper, Shumard said.

Some walkway work has been done in the area, and concrete will be poured for a parallel path along the seawall and lookout spot. Brick would be laid next summer.

The mill building was in the way of a roundabout planned in the Wallace Street area, but it wasn’t the only obstacle to the road work.

“The roundabout can’t be done until the Stanley-National building is turned over to the city,” Shumard said.

A donation agreement between Stanley Black & Decker and the city calls for the company to clean up the property below the ground, while the city handles whatever might be in the building. When the EPA approves Stanley’s part of the cleanup, the property will be turned over to the city.

The city had hoped to control the site before the end of last year, but additional testing has been done to determine how to best clean up what’s underground.

The city received an update on the process Tuesday, saying that the company’s engineers have sent a remediation plan to Stanley’s corporate leaders. If it is OK’d by the company, it moves to the Environmental Protection Agency for its approval.

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